[Met Performance] CID:352720
Tristan und Isolde {450} Metropolitan Opera House: 11/28/2008., Sirius Broadcast live
XM Broadcast live
Streamed at metopera.org

(Debuts: Daniel Barenboim, Gerd Grochowski

Metropolitan Opera House
November 28, 2008 Broadcast


Tristan.................Peter Seiffert
Isolde..................Katarina Dalayman
Kurwenal................Gerd Grochowski [Debut]
Brangäne................Michelle DeYoung
King Marke..............René Pape
Melot...................Stephen Gaertner
Sailor's Voice..........Matthew Plenk
Shepherd................Mark Schowalter
Steersman...............James Courtney

English Horn Solo: Pedro R. Díaz

Conductor...............Daniel Barenboim [Debut]

Production..............Dieter Dorn
Designer................Jürgen Rose
Lighting designer.......Max Keller

Tristan und Isolde received six performances this season

The revival a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis

Broadcast live on Sirius and XM Metropolitan Opera Radio
Sreamed at metopera.org

Production photos of Tristan und Isolde by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

Review of William R. Braun in the February 2009 issue of Opera News

Already in the fifth decade of his conducting career, Daniel Barenboim finally
made his belated Metropolitan Opera debut on November 28, leading "Tristan und Isolde." "Tristan" has long been the preserve of James Levine at the house, but Barenboim certainly put his stamp on it. His interpretation of the orchestral role is melody-based, with clear textures underneath. Some of the best effects, such as the breathlessness at the start of Act II and the frenzied waves of fever in Act III, are achieved by careful attention to Wagner's detailed markings. There was liberal use of portamento in the strings, notably in Brangane's "Einsam wachend" Especially fine was the music that used to be routinely cut in the love duet, where Barenboim kicked up some energetic, lusty foreplay (and where the Tristan, Peter Seiffert, did his best work). Indeed all of the duet was beautifully shaped, with a real oasis before the start of the final build-up. Rene Pape's King Marke, a defining success for him, is capable of making a whole opera out of his monologue, but Barenboim kept him in frame.

The performance's other debutant, Gerd Grochowski's Kurwenal, was at (but not over) the limits of his voice. Like everyone onstage, he went to great lengths to sing straight out into the house. Katarina Dalayman's Isolde, handicapped by her weak low register (surprising in a Met Brangäne who had been promoted upward), soggy diction and limited power, didn't make much impact. During the solo after Tristan offered her his sword in Act I, she nearly disappeared vocally. Dalayman does not command the finale, but this had the welcome side-effect of
keeping it from becoming a detached showpiece. She is a small woman; Seiffert,
when in close proximity to her in Act II, helpfully stooped. On [the first] night, the tenor, rough and hardy of voice, was in no audible trouble until a few minutes before the end of the role, and his words were splendidly clear in the delirium of Act III.

Michelle DeYoung remains curious casting for Brangäne. A tall, jolly girl, she doesn't have the acting ability to put across the ditzy words and simpering music Wagner wrote. Offstage for her Watch, she shamelessly oversang. Most expressive of all the principals was Pedro R. Diaz, the English horn player.

Dieter Dorn's 1999 Pottery Barn production has been tweaked in two positive ways. The stage is no longer flooded with passionate red lighting after the drinking of the potion. (The audience, understandably, used to chuckle here.) And the leafy branches that slide in and out in Act II no longer do so loudly enough to cover the music. There are a few nice touches - Isolde removes her crown before her tryst, as if it were a wedding ring, and Marke, after his betrayal, removes his royal robe - but entrances are still blunt and unmotivated and follow-spots are still in use. A full complement of offstage brass is one of the glories of Wagner at the Met. Let us hope that it will remain so as the Met - like all performing-arts presenters - faces a leaner economic future.

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